THE UK has granted a “woeful” 2700 visas to those fleeing conflict under its Homes For Ukraine scheme, the latest figures show.

Boris Johnson defended his government’s record in Parliament, despite the data showing that less than 10% of the 28,300 applications logged so far have been successful.

Campaigners are urging the Government to “cut the red tape” for refugees seeking sanctuary in Britain.

The scheme started accepting applications on March 18, with the aim of allowing individuals, charities, community groups and businesses to bring Ukrainians – including those with no family ties to the UK – to safety.

However, Britain retains a visa requirement on security grounds while other European countries have waived checks in response to the humanitarian crisis caused by the Russian invasion.

The total number of applications from Ukrainians wanting to come to the UK was 59,500 as of March 29, the Home Office said.

This includes 28,300 under the Homes For Ukraine scheme and 31,200 under the separate Ukraine Family Scheme, which allows Ukrainians to join relatives living in the UK.

There have been 25,500 visas issued altogether, including 2700 under the sponsorship scheme and 22,800 under the family scheme.

The latest UN figures suggest two million children have been forced to flee Ukraine due to the war, with youngsters making up around half of all refugees from the conflict. 

Johnson defended the Government’s “overwhelmingly generous” record on taking refugees at PMQs.

LibDem leader Sir Ed Davey said in the Commons that an elderly couple on the Polish-Ukrainian border told him “they have been told that it’s just too complicated” to come to the UK as refugees.

He explained: “Now the Government’s own figures say the same. Paperwork is being put ahead of people. When wealthy businessmen from over 50 countries can come to the UK visa-free, why does the Prime Minister insist that a traumatised Ukrainian mother and child must first fill out a visa form?”

The Prime Minister replied: “Everybody I think is pulling together, the number of people who have come forward to offer their homes is incredible.

“But I really don’t think that he should deprecate what the UK is offering. We have already given 25,000 people, have already got visas, we are processing 1000 a day, and there is no limit, no upper limit to the number that we can take.

“And this is a country that has already been the most generous in taking people from Afghanistan, the 15,000 under Operation Pitting, 104,000 applications from the Hong Kong Chinese, this is a country that is overwhelmingly generous to people coming in fear of their lives, yes it is, and so is this Government.”

The National:

READ MORE: Scottish Government urging UK officials to 'move faster' on Ukrainian refugees

Refugees minister Lord Harrington said progress is starting to be seen thanks to changes the Home Office has made to “streamline” the visa process.

“The response of the British public has been incredible, opening their hearts and homes to the people of Ukraine, and we must do everything we can to make the most of this extraordinary generosity,” he commented.

“We are starting to see progress because of changes the Home Office made to streamline the visa process and put additional resources into the system.

“However, we need to do more and will be making further improvements to bring people to the UK as quickly as possible.

“I look forward to welcoming more families and ensuring they have the support they need when they arrive.”

Sonya Sceats, chief executive of the Freedom From Torture charity, described the sponsorship scheme numbers as “woeful”, and called on the Government to “cut the red tape”.

“In a month where people across the country signed up to welcome more refugees than the Government has in 10 years, these woeful numbers prove why visa-based schemes are an unsuitable gateway for refugees fleeing Ukraine to reach safety here in the UK,” she said.

“Increasing reports of horrendous sexual violence against Ukrainian women and girls make it all the more urgent for the Government to cut the red tape so that survivors can get here quickly and access services from specialist trauma services like Freedom From Torture.”

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the latest figures reveal “shamefully slow progress on Ukrainian refugees”.

“British people [have] shown strong support but shambolic Home Office bureaucracy (is) letting everyone down,” she tweeted.

Shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy accused the Government of “wasting the amazing generosity that British people have shown”.

“It’s scandalous that only one in 100 of the offers by people to open their homes has been taken up because of the way the Government is running the scheme,” she said.

“Ministers gave no thought to key details before the scheme was announced. They need to cut out unnecessary bureaucracy and speed up the processing of visas.

“And instead of a DIY scheme where sponsors and refugees have to find each other on social media, the Government needs to take charge of matching people. This is a serious humanitarian crisis, not online dating.

“People have stepped up in Ukraine’s hour of need. These figures show that the Government needs to urgently do the same.”

In Ireland, which has dropped any requirements for checks or visas and pledged not to cap numbers, around 13,500 Ukrainian refugees have arrived so far.

The Scottish Government says it is “meeting daily” with the UK Government to urge it to "move faster" on granting visas to refugees. 

The SNP's shadow home secretary Stuart McDonald MP said of the latest Home Office statistics: "These figures are desperately poor and they highlight the UK Government's disappointing response to the refugee crisis unfolding in Ukraine.

"The UK Government granting only 2700 visas under its Homes for Ukraine sponsorship scheme – offering safety to just 0.6% of the 4 million refugees that have fled Ukraine – is what happens when bureaucracy and paperwork is prioritised over people in the face of the largest refugee displacement in Europe since WW2.

"These figures must be a wake-up call for the UK Government, and they must now heed the calls and waive requirements for Ukrainians to apply for visas in advance of their arrival in the UK so as to facilitate speedy access to international protection and ensure people can find safety and be able to rebuild their lives."